Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Public Service Announcement

Hey, just a quick note to my readers to let you know that I won't be blogging for a while. It may be a few weeks, it may be months - I don't know.

I don't want to go into things here, but I'm ok as is everyone else in my life. But you know how sometimes something happens which pretty much shakes everything else up? I'm in a phase of that at the moment. I just can't prioritise the blog right now.

It all sounds a bit cryptic but I just felt I owed those who take the time to read my blog a small explanation. (I'll delete this post some time in the near future).

I'll still be reading everyone else's blogs and commenting occasionally, so I'll still be around. And I absolutely PROMISE I'll be back to blogging some time.

Hope you're all well x

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Getting Crafty - Week 1

I have to say, I didn't think that I would get far with this project, one of my favourite hobbies being to write lists of stuff to do, then not actually do it. But I've taken to it with surprising enthusiasm so far!

1. Make a cake

I did this on the first day, not surprisingly. Not just because it was a good excuse to eat cake but also because I had beetroot that needed to be used up, so I went for a fail-proof chocolate and beetroot cake. I always feel somewhat virtuous when I eat cakes containing veg, but I suspect the sugar outweighs any benefits it might otherwise have. Tasted good though.

3. Make a pie

I was less impressed with my attempt at a butternut squash and broccoli pie. It was OK but for all the faffing it took to make the pastry, cook the pastry, make the filling then cook the whole thing, I don't think I'd be in a hurry to do it again. It tasted fine, but nothing special.

4. Finish the second half of my cushion cover

I'm motoring on with this, so may actually have it done by the end of the month! How long it will take me to actually put the whole cover together, remains to be seen.

5. Start a new knitting project
Not started, but I've decided what I'm making, which is a start....

6. Make a Mother's Day card

Now, I am no artist and nor am I a fancy card maker so this was never going to be spectacular. Instead I went for a simple comic-style drawing of myself, which isn't as narcissistic as it sounds; it incorporates a joke involving my mother (and which won't be remotely funny to anyone else). I was quite pleased with it. Juts got to glue it on to some coloured card, and away it goes.

9. Sow some seeds
Basil, parsley and chive so far.

And that's it, but I'm pleased with my progress!

Anyone else been making anything recently?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

On Blogging and the Blogging World

I loved Suzy Marie's recent post about the Blogging Race, and I found myself nodding in agreement to pretty much every point she made. The blogging race is something I try to avoid but its hard not to get caught up with insecurities sometimes. My take on blogging is this - its something that I do for myself. I don't define myself or describe myself as a blogger, its just something I do as a hobby - an offshot from the fiction writing that I do, and a means of getting my writing out into the world. If I had no followers or readers, I would still blog but it means a lot to me that people do actually take the time to read what I write.

I have 16 regular followers/commenters. You know who you are and I know who you are. I would rather have 16 followers that I mostly know personally (I mean personally over the net, not personally in real life) and who are willing to put up with my random topics and posting schedule, than thousands for whom I need to post regular and quality content for. That's not why I blog and that will never be what I want. I add links to my posts on Twitter, but that's my only promotion. I've never understood this need to beg for blog followers on Twitter or anywhere else (likewise, the need to beg for Twitter followers -  'I have 997 Twitter followers - please follow me to bring it to 1000' - why is this important?)

None of this is to say I don't have my insecurities. I once did a post which was a photo tour of my new house. It got so few page views that I eventually deleted it in shame. I had seen folk do similar posts on their blogs and saw how popular they had been, and I wanted to do the same. But then I realised that my heart wasn't in it, and that this post was more a case of copying what works for others than doing what works for me. I'm now careful to make sure I only post what I genuinely want to post, and not what I feel I should. What I'm saying is, the issue wasn't really the fact that it had so few views, it was the fact I was never comfortable posting it in the first place. I've had other posts that have had even less views but because they're posts I wanted to do and that I'm happy with, the stats don't bug me.

I do have bouts of frustration when I see others winning awards, guest blogging, gaining followers and writing loads and loads of awesome posts when I can barely string one together. I feel I should be doing something more, but I don't know what or how. Maybe I should do outfit posts. Or have a niche. Maybe I should pay for advertising. Maybe I should do more posts about what I do day to day, but then I worry that my life is too boring so there's no point. That's human nature though, and none of it really matters; I'm not here to win awards, I could guest post more if I chose to put myself out there, and I know I'm happy with my followers and the content I write, it's just my ego playing games. I'm terrible for starting projects with great enthusiasm then dropping them a few weeks later and moving on to something else, so the mere fact that I've kept this blog going for all this time is a huge achievement for me.

I think it boils down to a fear of being judged. Of someone thinking 'ooh, look at this poor, crappy blog with hardly any comments and rubbish posts.' I absolutely know that no one thinks this, but as always, we humans fear being judged. I feel I have to somehow justify to others that I'm happy with my small following, and I actually like my posts, thank you very much but there's no need to justify anything because it Does Not Matter. But this 'blogging race' that Suzy refers to, means that followers and comments and reblogs and awards are how blogs are judged. And as she says, the trick is to simply not get involved, and remember not to get involved. Our blogs are only as big a deal as we want them to be. If those things matter, then that's fine. Put your energy there and build your blog. If they don't matter, that's fine too. Put your energy into what does matter, and use your blog for whatever purpose you please.

Its easy to say, but whether its so easy to do, remains to be seen. I guess this post is a reminder to myself, if nothing else, not to get caught up in stats and whether or not I'm doing it right. There's no right or wrong and I'm doing just fine, as is everyone else.

Do you ever feel like this? Does blogging need to be a Big Deal?

Friday, 6 March 2015

Getting Crafty for National Craft Month


After much internal debate, I've decided to join Elise in her week/month of making (originally inspired by Janet). Now, I am nowhere near as crafty as either of them (calling them crafty makes it sound as if they're up to no good, hehe) so DO NOT expect great things from this. I'm not. I'm also not known for my ability to stick to projects and get on with stuff, so I've decided to make a list of 12 different projects to make in March, seeing as Elise has mentioned its National Craft Month in America. I've used the term 'make' quite loosely in some cases, as you can see, as they're definitely not all classed as crafts.

1. Make a cake

2. Make mayonnaise

3. Make a pie

4. Finish the second half of my cushion cover

5. Start a new knitting project

6. Make something for Baby Rooftops

7. Use my sewing machine for the first time ever (*gulp*)

8. Make a Mother's Day card

9. Sow some seeds (and make herbs, woo)

10. Make plans for trips away in March, April and May

11. Make limeade

12. Make something I've pinned on Pinterest

My Christmas List worked well, so I'm hoping this will, too. I may add some more things if I feel enthusiastic. Or I may never speak of any of this again. Don't judge me if that happens,

Anyone else up for making? 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

IWSG - loving and hating in equal measures

I decided that I was going to give up short story writing a week ago. Nearly a whole month had gone by and I had barely written a word, plus to cap it all, a story I'd submitted to a magazine had been returned. They had helpfully pointed out that the storyline was a bit weak, which was very useful feedback, but to my mind at that moment, it was code for Shit Story. Screw all the stories, I'm through with it! Every single story I had submitted to magazines up until that point had been returned - yes, all whopping six of them - so there was no point in continuing. I also chose to conveniently ignore the stories I've had short listed in competitions, that have won competitions...whatever. My future hinged on that return, and it told me I was Not Good Enough. The story was shit, and I was shit and everything was hopeless.

A few days later, I had another return. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? But this is a brilliant story, are they MAD????? This was a story I had faith in. A story I know has potential. But if others can't see it, why the hell am I even bothering? Yeah, I should definitely give up writing. Conveniently ignoring that this same story has been shortlisted in a competition so others have indeed seen the potential in it, plus the fact that magazines return stories for a variety of reasons, not necessarily because the story is no good.

I have moments in life where my moods can fluctuate (don't we all...) but when it comes to writing, I can fly off either end of the scale. One minute, I'm useless and its all pointless. The next minute, I can't understand why the world can't see my brilliance. Mostly, its fair to say, I'm in the middle ground; I'm a good writer but I have a lot to learn and I'm learning all the time. I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to submitting stories to magazines. A third story was returned a couple of days ago, and this time, there was little or no reaction. OK, I thought. This is a good story, I'll just edit it again, tweak it a bit and send it to another magazine. No drama.

So all I need to do now is try and stay balanced on this even keel.

Is it just me? Do other/all writers have moments where they think they're too bad/too good to bother trying?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

This was February 2015

February was about:
Being lazy
Some more napping
Quiet weekends
Meeting Elise
Being last in pub quizzes
Random snow blizzards

Short stories written: 1
Short stories submitted (comps): 1
Short stories submitted (mags): 3
Competitions won: 0
Runner up: 0
Shortlisted: 0
Acceptances: 0
Returns: 3
Words of novel written: 28,691 (OK, not all technically written this month - a lot was cut and pasted from other languishing drafts)

This is what I was doing:
12 Things I learned from doing Morning Pages every day for a year
Changing of the Seasons
How to make Public Speaking less scary
A list of quick and easy random stuff to do for Lent
A Crocheting Update

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A Crocheting Update

Way back in the mists of time (2013 actually), I learned to crochet and started to make a cushion cover. I never ever did an update on how I got on, mainly because the whole thing fell by the wayside and was forgotten about.

But in December, I found my crochet mojo again, thanks to my promise to make something Christmassy, plus Elise handily providing a link to a cool and easy pattern. So here it is, half hanging from my bedroom door, and half held up by me:

I didn't finish it until New Year, when I then hung it up above the living room window. I was tempted to leave it up all year but then I decided that spoiled the fun of it being a Christmas decoration, so its now tucked away until the end of the year. I couldn't quite get the snowflakes right, but otherwise I'm happy with it.

The banner was easy and fun to make, and spurned me to get my cushion cover back on the go. Part of the reason I had abandoned it was because the squares were done and now I needed to sew them together. Finishing is my least part of any project though, and I always stall. But I persevered. And here it is:

I love it. I love Granny squares anyway, plus they're so easy and they give instant gratification. In my wisdom, I decided to attempt a giant square for the other side of the cushion. This is not as much fun to make but I'm rejoicing that I won't have a shitload of squares to put together. The aim is to finish it this year (which is a modest aim for me).

I'm not sure I'm that keen on it; I think the gaps are too big, but I'll keep going for now and see how I feel. It would be easy enough to unravel it and start again (this is already the second attempt).

And while we're on the subject of Granny squares, look at this awesome blanket I made for my bed. Sorry, I mean look at this awesome blanket I bought in a charity shop for my bed. It's made up of a load of HUGE Granny squares (I've had it a year but only realised the other day that it's made of symmetrical squares). A lot of work has gone into it and it's damn warm for these cold north winters.